Oliver Twist

Rated 3.0

For this latest adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens novel (the fifth since 1933, not counting TV versions or the 1988 Disney cartoon Oliver & Company), director Roman Polanski and writer Ronald Harwood take a straightforward approach. At times, the movie’s cinematography (Pawel Edelman) and set designs (Allan Starski), and even some of Harwood’s plot shortcuts, are so reminiscent of Oliver! (the 1968 musical) that you almost expect the characters to start singing. It’s a respectful and respectable version of the story, albeit just a wee bit overlong. The largely unfamiliar cast has the perfect look for Dickens. Ben Kingsley’s Fagin, though late in appearing, is the movie’s lubricious center, and his final mad scene is piteous. Jamie Foreman’s Bill Sykes is a terrifying yet all-too-human monster.